Note on the Special Assessment

The Somersett Owners Association (SOA) rescently sent out a “Somersett Happenings” email in which they addressed the $1200 Special Assessment. The email stated that the Special Assessment Statements were in the process of being mailed and provided access to a copy of the cover letter that would accompany the Statements. For those of our readers who may not be on the SOA email distribution list, a copy of the referenced cover letter may be accessed by clicking on the following:

Specil Assessment Statememt Cover Letter

Homeowner Analysis of December 12th BOD Recap

The following post submitted by, and the opinion of,  Joe Bower Sierra Canyon Owner 

First of all, I don’t go to Somersett board meetings as often as I used to, especially since owners can get a free audio recording just by asking. And I missed this one.

However, ever since 2009 the Somersett recording system(s) has been worse than lousy. 2009 is the year state law – Nevada Revised Statutes 116 – governing homeowner associations – first required audio recordings of board meetings to be made (and BTW kept for ten years),

Along with inferior microphones and recording devices there is a lot of board whispering/chatter and rustling of papers making for clarity problems on the audio recordings. In addition, when the board is to be addressed by a member in the audience, the person should stand at a miked podium so they can be recorded clearly.

Shouldn’t cost much money to have an adequate sound system for board meetings. Hire a pro to determine what works well in the rooms where it will be used rather than having a staff member unknowledgeable/inexperienced in “sound” simply going to the store and buying a cheap/wrong one.

Wow! How did the Sierra Canyon (SC) board president say all that he did in three minutes? Granted special time allotment?

As a member of the SC association I am embarrassed that the president apparently took it upon himself to address the master board without a SC board resolution that he do so. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t recall “Address to Somersett Board” being on any SC board agenda.

For years sub-association SC owners have had opinions and complaints about the master Somersett association (of which they are also a member) not only concerning how it is run, but also decisions being made that affect them. Is it too simple to say the vast majority (1) have never attended a Somersett board meeting; (2) only a handful attend on a regular basis; or (3) have never volunteered for Somersett committees?

SC owners have long been frustrated about being in a sub-association subject to the Somersett master association and paying two monthly assessments and what they now perceive to be an unjust special assessment. The simplest way to understand the current situation is to look upon Somersett being the federal government and SC the Nevada state government realizing that dues to Somersett are like taxes to the feds and that Nevada taxes go to help correct damage on federal lands (common areas) in other states.

SC owners often say SC should secede from Somersett without realizing that is impossible under current governing documents, primarily the City approved Somerset PUD (Planned Unit Development) into which SC was written. Why not seek a doable alternative solution of benefit to both Somerset and SC, i.e. get off the dream of secession and instead undertake the practical of making Somersett and Sierra Canyon a single association?

That would entail the doable of dissolving the Sierra Canyon Association and drawing up new Somersett governing documents so that SC is absorbed into the Somersett Association as a non-sub, but with certain agreed upon provisions designed to preserve its 55+ status. A joint committee needs to be set up to work out the details for a single board, CC&R’s, bylaws, common area maintenance, etc. etc. etc. everything (including amending the PUD), i.e. re- setting up Somersett from scratch. Lot-a lot-a work, but can be accomplished just like the merger of two corporations, e.g. Exxon and Mobil – as indeed SOA and SCA are two corporations. That is what should be concentrated upon starting soon knowing that the end result might take a couple of years.

Without seeing the backup documentation for the points made by the SC board president it is difficult to comment, but here goes.

1) What makes the letter improper? What threats? Carrying out the Violation Policy all owners are subject to is not a threat.

Speaking of threats, what is the sentence in the Sierra Canyon Board president’s statement read into the record of the Somersett board meeting: “There needs to be action and positive steps taken by SOA Board before we go deep into litigation and expense that many wonder if we will even prevail.” ???

1a) Landscaping issues created by the SC developer should have been addressed when first known. As part of the purchase process for a home the prospective owner is given copies of association governing documents. In them are “rules”on landscaping, e.g. mow-strips and front yard trees now in prolonged controversy. If the developer hadn’t followed the rules as part of the construction process, the prospective buyer should should either: (1) not have not closed until they were; or (2) received a written document from the developer saying they would be within a specified time period. At the time of common area turnovers from developer to the association a joint inspection walk-thru should have been undertaken by a developer representative, a board member, a professional landscaper, and a professional civil engineer so that defects/defaults could be noted and the turnover not accepted by the association until they were corrected. It is difficult without lawsuits to correct what should have been taken care of years ago. Bottom line: Buyer Beware.

2) Private homeowner insurance policies either will or won’t cover various types of special assessments. Those policies are between the individual and the insurance company and have nothing to do with either association. If the Somersett letter in question is dated November 2, 2018, my agent had no trouble with it. Also, the letter contained the phone number and email address of the Somersett General Manager who gladly will answer questions or provide additional information.

3) Somersett is not obligated to help in advising SC owners of the special assessment. Early rumors were rampant that it was coming and there was time to ask insurance agents “What if, am I covered.” The official letter explained all that was necessary. Soon there will be another on how to pay the special assessment. Everything in black and white reviewed by a lawyer before mailing.

4) Leadership regarding the status of reserves included two SC owners on the Somersett board and three SC owners on the Somersett Finance Committee. What more could SC want??? Both monthly board meetings and monthly finance committee meetings are open to all owners. Yes owners not attending have no clue as to what is going on. I suggest more often and more informative association business e-blasts even though owners may attend Finance Committee meetings.The Committee reviews the monthly financial statements and ongoing and possible future financial matters. Typically only a handful of owners attend and the committee members while not wanting to be interrupted will pause to take questions from the audience.

5) I don’t recall the status of Jason Roland being on the agenda for a SC board meeting. Was the December 12 letter to the Somersett Board regarding Jason approved at a SC board meeting or did the board president take it upon himself to write it? Perhaps there were discussions about Jason among board members, however, I am unaware of a board resolution being approved resulting in the letter.

How many owners noticed that Jason did not check the conflict of interest box and explain it on his candidate statement? He clearly had and still does have a conflict with his wife (Tiffany) being an employee of the master developer currently be sued by the association. Also, he has a conflict with Tiffany being on the Community Standards Committee which deals with owner violations. A negative decision made by the CSC (Tiffany) against an owner can be appealed to the Board (Jason). I don’t believe recusing himself from board matters that touch on conflicts of interest prevents them from being part of conversations at home. Both Tiffany and Jason should resign their positions. The “pipeline” from board to the developer may not exist, but any appearance of such should be avoided. Owners need to have their violation appeals without prejudice

If Janson were to leave the Board, the Board would have four members for only a short time. Regarding a resignation, the Bylaws say: “the board may call a special meeting of the members to elect a new director to the unexpired portion of the term or the Board may leave the position vacant until the the next annual members meeting, at which time any unexpired vacant directors’s term shall be filled by election of a new director.” A wise and over-burdened board would call a special meeting. Should Tiffany leave the CSC, her replacement can easily be appointed at the next board meeting.

Lighting: Accepting money for holiday lights from an entity that Somersett is suing is a pathetic shame. It should be returned with postage due on the envelope.

Irrigation Main Line Repair: Repairs have been ongoing for +/- fifteen years. Padovan Consulting has been the go-to firm for +/- fifteen years on Somersett projects requiring civil engineering expertise. It is my opinion that after having one-man Padovan Consulting so deeply involved in association matters for so long that the time has come to contract with other companies when association needs arise in the areas of construction and project management, entitlements processing, permitting, design, due diligence, forensics and water resource matters. Is Padovan Consulting routinely given work by the Board without first receiving bids from others? Is there any conflict of interest with Mr. Padovan being on the Aesthetic Guidelines Committee?

Somersett Parkway Crosswalks: Once again SC is treated as the unwanted stepsister regarding the installation of rapid flashing pedestrian lights at crosswalks. It’s always Somersett first SC last. Somersett maintains the parkways in Sierra Canyon and installation of such lights should be on a cycle of one for Somersett and one for Sierra Canyon, one for Somersett and one for Sierra Canyon, i.e. a steady alternation of something badly needed in both associations.

Parks Committee: Although the initial reasons for the establishment of the Parks Committee were accomplished , its charter should be re re-written to continue on with new objectives. The establishment of a “junior” Ad-Hod Garden Group is not enough, especially when there are two parks (East and West) in Somersett that require constant attention and maintenance. Both parks are open to the public and one would expect many non-Somersett dogs to visit a geographically desirable park. How will the Garden, Dog Park, and Children Areas be managed on a daily basis?

I believe it would be most helpful to most owners if a draft of board meeting minutes for both associations were sent out as an e-blast to owners within three days after the meeting. That would help cut down rumors and keep owners more fully informed. Over the years I have asked that draft minutes be readily available in the same time frame as audio recordings. Owners (association members) are adults who understand that draft minutes are just that, i.e. not official until board approved. Why hold them back?

I wish to apologize for any ignorant or erroneous statements made herein. As always I will stand corrected.

Joe Bower

December 12th BOD Meeting Recap

Following is a summary of topics discussed and/or approved at the December 12th Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting.

Note: SU Editor was unavailable to attend meeting. Therefore, the following was derived from its audio recording. Given some clarity problems with the recording, we apologize for any misstatements and welcome any correcting comments.

Homeowner Comments – Many Sierra Canyon (SC) owners were present at the meeting and vocal in presenting to the BOD their opinions/complaints on a variety of issues, some of which follow:

  • A complaint that, given the SOA does not maintain common area rockery walls within SC (these are inspected and maintained via SC assessment funds), why should SC owners be assessed for repairs of the SOA rockery walls outside of the SC community. Also an implication that the SOA was negligent in not routinely inspecting and maintaining the SOA common area walls.
  • A statement read to the BOD by the SC Board President accusing the SOA of: 1) an improper letter and threats to SC owners regarding landscaping performed by the SC developer, 2) a poorly written special assessment document that essentially precluded owners from getting relief via their homeowner assessment insurance, 3) a lack of help on the part of the SOA in advising SC owners of the special assessment, 4) a lack of leadership on the part of the SOA in maintaining adequate reserves, and 4) submittal of a formal letter to the SOA Board requesting that Board member Jason Roland (due to his wife being employed by Somersett Development Company – the subject of the SOA’s lawsuit regarding the rockery wall defects) take a leave of absence from the SOA board until such litigation is settled. For those interested in the details, a copy of the SC Board Presidents statement and letter may be viewed via the following link: SC President Statement

Editorial Note: SU believes the statement regarding Board member Roland to take a leave of absence is unwarranted. All Somersett Owners in good standing have a right to serve on the SOA Board when duly elected. If conflicts of interest arise it is then the responsibility of the Board member to recuse himself/herself from all activities pertaining to the source of the conflict, as Mr. Roland has appropriately done. Also, the Rockery Wall litigation will most likely take several months or even years to resolve. Taking a leave of absence would leave the SOA Board with only four members for an extended period of time, unacceptable.

  • The SC Board president questioned the appropriateness of accepting a contribution from the Somersett Development Company for the Round-about Holiday Lighting project given the ongoing litigation.
  • A concern over rumors that another special assessment would be forthcoming, and that many SC owners with fixed income could not afford them.
  • A proposal by a SC Board member for the new SOA BOD to eliminate the Special Assessment and secure another loan to finance the rockery wall repairs.
  • The SOA treats SC as a second class citizen uncapable of taking care of themselves. AGC examples were addressed.
  • Lack of communication between the SOA and SC
  • A request to re-examine the SOA/SC relationship with regard to the amount of money being paid to the SOA via common area assessments (approximately 1.5M annually) and the $1200 special assessment. The implication being that SC does not receive appropriate benefits.
  • A request to restore the Del Webb signage on the West Entrance Monument.

Note: Other issues were raised and discussed that were difficult to follow via the audio recording. Therefore, anyone wishing to expand on the preceeding is encouraged to do so via reply to this posting. The bottom line here is that there are serious contentions between the SOA and SC that need resolution.

Special Assessment – The BOD approved a phased payment plan for the $1200 Special Assessment. That is, the proposed $600 January 1, 2019 assessment may be paid for in installments up to June 30, 2019. No late fees would be imposed if paid for by this date. Likewise, the $600 July 1, 2019 assessment may be paid for in installments up to December31, 2019 before being subject to late fees. Given complaints from some owners that they have not yet received an official notification of the special assessment, hopefully, the BOD will insure that all homeowners are notified in a timely manner with a detailed explanation of payment options.

Holiday Lights for Round-abouts – The BOD reversed its previous decision not to fund Holiday lighting for the Somersett Parkway Round-abouts. This based on $10,500 in contributions received from local businesses. The SOA will fund the remaining $11,000 required for the project. Contributors to the project were Somersett Development Company – $6,000, Toll Brothers – $2000, The Greens at Town Center – $500, and a combined $2,000 from American Family Insurance, Dickson Realty & Synergy Home Mortgage.

Fuel Fire Reduction Project – A $45.5K bid was accepted for reduction of fire fuel levels on approximately 65 acres of common area land. This to provide defensible space between residential structures and areas of extreme fire danger. Services to consist of both hand treatment and mastication (the reduction of vegetation into small chunks via equipment grinding, shredding or chopping, usually leaving the mulched vegetation in place). Areas affected may be viewed via the following link: Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project. Note that this does not include SC areas as SC performs its own fire fuel reductions.

Gypsy Hill Rockery Wall Repair – Successful bidder for this project was Ralph I. Wadsworth Construction Company at $1.28M. Two other bids were received at $1.25M and $1.50M. One advantage by Wadsworth Construction was its ability to start work in February. Slope and wall stabilization will consist of a rockery wall tie-back anchor system and shotcrete reinforcement. Project location may be viewed via the following link: Gypsy Hill Slope Stabilization Project Area. Related proposals from American Geotechnical, CME, Reno Green and Padovan Consulting (totaling approximately $97K) for testing, inspection, landscape and construction management services were also approved.

Irrigation Main Line Repair – Approved a Padovan Consulting proposal for the preparation of plans, specifications and a RFP for repair of a leaking six inch main irrigation line. Estimated cost for the proposed service is $6.5K.

Somersett Parkway Crosswalk – Involves installation of a rapid flashing pedestrian crosswalk system on Somersett Parkway at Willow Ranch & Back Nine Trails. Awarded to Titan Electric at $25K.

SOA Parks Committee Dissolution – Based on a recommendation from the Committee Chair, The BOD approved dissolution of the Parks Committee, this based on the Committee having completed all tasks outlined in its Charter. A copy of the motion to disband as prepared by the Committee is available via the following link: SOA Parks Committee Motion for Disbandment. In consideration of a homeowner comment and upon recommendation of the Committee, the BOD approved formation of an Ad-Hoc Garden Group to advise the BOD on issues pertaining to the Community Garden portion of the West Park.

Appointment of BOD Members to Committees – The following Board members were assigned as laisons to the various SOA Committees. Board members are expected to attend the Committee meetings.

AGC – Frank Leto primary, Tom Fitzgerald secondary
CSC – Tom Fitzgerald primary, Terry Retter secondary
Finance – Joe Strout primary, Terry Retter secondary
Communications – Frank Leto primary, Terry Retter secondary
Facilities – Jason Roland primary, Joe Strout secondary

SOA Committee Charters – Amendments to the Aesthetic Guidelines, Budget& Finance, Communication and Facility Committee Charters were proposed A proposed change to the AGC Committee called for the reduction of BOD appointed members from seven to five. That is, one primary and one alternate Board member and three independent professionals (a civil engineer, an architect and a landscape designer). Unit owner representation on the AGC committee would be eliminated. Changes to the other committees call for appointments of one year terms with a maximum of two one year extensions. No explanations were given for the proposed changes and no motion was made to approve the proposed changes, apparently to further discuss in a “Committee Workshop”.

 

WISHING YOU A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

December 12th SOA Board Meeting

The Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors (BOD) open meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 12th, 2018 at 5:30 PM at The Club at Town Center (TCTC) Canyon View Room. The Meeting Agenda may be accessed by clicking on the following link:

December 12th BOD Meeting Agenda

The BOD Meeting Packet containing details associated with agenda items was not yet available at the time of this posting. When published, it will be available on the SOA website ( www.somersett.net ) under the SOA/Committees & Meetings tab (Member Loigin required).

Comments on some of the agenda items follow:

Item 6. B “Holiday lights for Round-about” – Interesting item seeing as how the proposal for Round-about lighting was previously voted down – perhaps a reconsideration?

Item 7.a “Fire Fuel Reduction Sealed Bids” – An item dear to the hearts of many Somersett residents, with heightened concern given the recent California fires.

Items 7 b-f “Gypsy Hill Rockery Wall Repair Sealed Bids” and related services – It will be interesting to see how much these repairs and related proposals will cost the Association and their impact on the $3.7M being raised raised by the 2019 Special Assessments. Note that Rockery Wall repair costs for the 2nd Round-about have yet to be determined.

Item 7.j “Late Fees and Interest for Special Assessments” – First payment of $600 is due in Janurary with second $600 due in June. Suspect this discussion is with regard to how mutch owners will be penalized for not paying on time!

Item 7.k “Dissolve SOA Parks Committee” – Another interesting item given how much good work the Committee has done in raising funds and working with the Reno Parks Department on composition of the not yet built Somersett West Park. Since the Park is to be completed in phases, it is hard to imagine that continued coordination with the Reno Parks Department and our fund raising partner Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation (www.tmparksfoundation.org/somersett-west-park) will not be required.

Note also that the December BOD Meeting will be the first with newly installed Board members Terry Retter and Joe Strout.